4 Comments

Summary:

Siemens is planning a big layoff after it couldn’t find a buyer for its solar thermal technology, for which it paid $418 million in 2009.

Image (1) soleltroughs.jpg for post 72041

Solar has been a tough business for both well-funded startups or corporate giants with long histories in the energy business. Siemens proves that case now that it’s failed to find a buyer for its solar technology, which has been losing its appeal in some parts of the world.

The German company couldn’t get rid of the concentrating solar thermal business it bought from an Israeli firm, Solel, for $418 million in 2009, Bloomberg reported Monday. Siemens’ solar business has been bleeding money — at least $1 billion since 2011. It’s planning a layoff  that will affect about 280 people.

The company first announced its plan to ditch the solar business last October, when it conceded that mounting losses and lackluster market demand weren’t going to disappear soon enough. Siemens’ exit also means the company won’t likely invest in solar startups like it used to.

Siemens has done well with its wind energy equipment business and is among a group of engineering giants, such as GE and ABB, that have bet big on renewable energy. GE was planning to build a 400MW solar panel factory in Colorado before nixing the plan in 2012.

BrightSource Energy storage 2Solar technology companies worldwide have struggled mightily, and dozens of them have gone out of business or gotten scooped up cheaply. The solar market has experienced an oversupply of solar panels for nearly three years. That has not only depressed prices but also sparked trade disputes in which Chinese solar panel makers have been selling their products at below fair market prices in the United States and Europe.

The market for concentrating solar thermal technology isn’t faring much better, either. That kind of technology, which was what Siemens bought from Solel, uses giant curved mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a heat-transferring fluid to generate steam. The steam then goes to drive a turbine generator to produce electricity. This type of technology is suitable for large solar power plants and works best in regions with intense sunlight and few cloudy days. The plummeting prices of solar panels in recent years has made it difficult for solar thermal technology to compete for utility contracts.

Most of the power purchase agreements awarded by California’s three big utilities, for example, use solar panels instead. BrightSource Energy, a concentrating solar thermal startup in Oakland, announced a change in their business plan earlier this month when it said it would no longer focus on being a power plant developer. Instead, it will supply its technology and engineering expertise and seek more business deals internationally.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. deco75943531 Tuesday, June 18, 2013

    Solar energy is now an indispensable source of energy, solar trade war but now also the popularity of this energy use will significantly affect the

    Welcome to visit my site, but also related to photovoltaic devices http://www.solarpanelcellonline.com/

  2. boyce394770911 Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    Increasingly scarce resources must adopt some method to compensate for now
    Although cost is quite high now but in the progress of science and technology the problem sooner or later to solve the support of solar
    Want to learn more at http://www.solarpanelcellonline.com/

  3. The future of large scale energy production will be fission or fusion. The amount of waste and danger of materials continues to decrease with advances in technology and at some point we will be able to just launch the waste into space.

    Till then fossile fuels will continue to be the primary source of power for the next 75+ years. Solar and will will have their place but it really is based use case.

Comments have been disabled for this post